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Published December 05, 2013, 01:36 PM

Despite slumping payment, Crystal CEO doesn't expect sugar beet growers to quit

FARGO – Though its growers will be paid $300 million less for this year’s harvest than 2012’s, the head of American Crystal Sugar Co. said Thursday he doesn’t expect sugar beet farmers to turn to other crops and abandon beets.

By: Dave Olson, INFORUM

FARGO – Though its growers will be paid $300 million less for this year’s harvest than 2012’s, the head of American Crystal Sugar Co. said Thursday he doesn’t expect sugar beet farmers to turn to other crops and abandon beets.

Crystal projects farmers will be paid $38 per ton this year, a steep decline from last year’s $68 per ton.

Speaking to reports at the Moorhead-based cooperative’s annual shareholders meeting, David Berg, president and CEO, said the questions were sharp and insightful questions in his meeting Thursday morning with between 500 and 600 growers.

Though the situation is bleak due to Mexican sugar flooding the U.S. market, Berg said he didn’t get the sense that any growers are ready to throw in the towel.

“I haven’t heard anyone say, ‘I’m done. I don’t need that anymore,’” he said.

Still, Berg said farmers may have to sharpen their pencils when figuring out planting plans for next spring. He said he was reminded of a saying: “Tough times don’t last but tough people do.”

The chairman of Crystal’s board of directors, the head of the growers’ association and both of North Dakota’s U.S. senators are slated to speak at the meeting Thursday afternoon.

Crystal is following up its annual meeting with two special shareholder meetings on Dec. 11 at 9 a.m. in Grand Forks at the Chester Fritz Auditorium and 2 p.m. at the Fargo Ramada Plaza to “discuss issues related to stock ownership.”

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